My family received very sad news Sunday morning.
Wayne Woods of Grenada, a first cousin to wife Krista by virtue of his daddy and her mama being brother and sister, had passed away at the age of 50. Krista was told he had been battling COVID.
Wayne, whose given name was Albert Dewayne Woods, was an associate pastor at Shield of Faith Worship Center in Grenada — a local congregation of the Pentecostal Church of God.
Many people, and the official record itself, would bear witness to the fact that Wayne was very dedicated in his service to the Lord.
Also very devoted to family, he was expecting the birth of his first grandchild. What a wide smile he would have had!
He stopped by the newspaper office one day just a couple of weeks ago. He was passing through and wanted to drop in and say hello. Krista and I chatted with him for a while, and then he went on his way and both of us got back to work. That was the last time we saw or spoke to him.
Although some people may have known Wayne only for his pastoral work, I remember him for his football prowess on the television.
Twenty-something years ago, Wayne and I, along with Krista’s three brothers and an occasional drop-in, would wage war during friendly but always intense tournaments of Madden football on one model or another of the PlayStation game console.
We — grown men, all of us, but young at heart — had a lot of good times with those digital blips. Sometimes, when it was just Wayne and me dueling, he and I would go head-to-head, game after game, for hours on end — he controlling the San Francisco 49ers and I calling plays for the New Orleans Saints. This gameplay went on for years — at and apart from family gatherings.
Krista recalled this week how she could always hear Wayne’s voice — especially his deep, hearty laughter — towering above everyone else’s during the matches.
On Jan. 9, I thought about Wayne after his 49ers defeated the Los Angeles Rams in the NFL regular-season finale, imagining him smiling as the 49ers simultaneously earned the last remaining playoff spot in the NFC and dashed the hopes of the Saints, who needed the 49ers to lose to snag that last postseason slot.
Sunday afternoon, the 49ers gave the Dallas Cowboys their walking papers, topping them 23-17 in a wild-card game.
Among my thoughts Sunday was how Wayne would have enjoyed seeing them win.
Perhaps he did, at that — from a choice seat in a luxurious skybox out of this world.